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Biographies - Jane Austen
Jane Austen
Image Source: Wikipedia contributors (2005). Jane Austen. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
Jane Austen
Born: December 16, 1775
Died: July 18, 1817
Ninteenth century English novelist .


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Quotes:"I do not want people to be agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them."
 "In every power, of which taste is the foundation, excellence is pretty fairly divided between the sexes."
Jane Austen was a prominent English novelist whose work is considered part of the Western canon. Her insights into womens lives and her mastery of form and irony made her arguably the most noted and influential novelist of her era.

Jane Austen was born at the rectory in Steventon, Hampshire, to the Rev. George Austen (1731-1805) and his wife Cassandra (nee Leigh) (1739-1827). She lived for most of her life in the area and never married. She had six brothers and one older sister, Cassandra, to whom she was very close. The only undisputed portrait of Jane Austen is a coloured sketch done by Cassandra which resides in the National Portrait Gallery in London. However, a full-length painting owned by a family member, traditionally held to be of Jane as a teenager, is now increasingly considered authentic by authorities. Her brothers Frank and Charles went to sea, eventually becoming admirals. In 1783, she was educated briefly by a relative in Oxford then Southampton. In 1785-1786, she was educated at the Reading Ladies boarding school in the Abbey gatehouse in Reading, Berkshire. In general, she received an education superior to that generally given to girls of her time, and took early to writing, her first tale being begun in 1789.

Austen\'s life was a singularly uneventful one and, but for a disappointment in love, tranquil and happy. In 1801 the family moved to Bath, the scene of many episodes in her writings. In 1802 Austen received a marriage proposal from a wealthy young man named Harris Bigg-Wither, whom she accepted, then refused the next day, presumably because she did not love him. Having refused this offer of marriage, Austen never subsequently married. After the death of her father in 1805, Austen, her sister, and her mother lived with her brother Frank and his family for several years until they moved in 1809 to Chawton. Here her wealthy brother Edward had an estate with a cottage, which he turned over to his mother and sisters. (Their house today is open to the public.)

Austen continued to live in relative seclusion and began to suffer ill-health. It is now thought she may have suffered from Addisons disease, the cause of which was then unknown. She traveled to Winchester to seek medical attention, but so rapid was the progress of her malady that she died there two months later and was buried in the cathedral.

Adhering to contemporary convention for female authors, Austen published her novels anonymously. Her novels achieved a measure of popular success and esteem yet her anonymity kept her out of leading literary circles. Although all her works are love stories and although her career coincided with the Romantic movement in English literature, Jane Austen was no Romantic. Passionate emotion usually carries danger in an Austen novel and the young woman who exercises rational moderation is more likely to find real happiness than one who elopes with a lover. Her artistic values had more in common with David Hume and John Locke than with her contemporaries William Wordsworth or Lord Byron. Three of Austen\'s favorite influences were Samuel Johnson, William Cowper and Fanny Burney.

Her posthumously published novel Northanger Abbey satirizes the Gothic novels of Ann Radcliffe, but Austen is most famous for her mature works, which took the form of socially astute comedies of manners. These, especially Emma, are often cited for their perfection of form, while modern critics continue to unearth new perspectives on Austen\'s keen commentary regarding the predicament of unmarried genteel English women in the early 1800s. Inheritance law and custom usually directed the bulk of a family\'s fortune to male heirs.

Bio Source: Wikipedia contributors (2005). Jane Austen. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.®    Introduction    Privacy Policy    Conditions of Use    

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